As the image indicates, and many of followers of my Facebook page knows, this past Monday my face and my show found their way to a billboard in the middle of Times Square.
Hold on, let me repeat that… A BILLBOARD IN TIMES SQUARE! (sorry, that was pretty exciting for me :-P)
Now while I could pretend that I’ve finally made it or lead you to believe that this was some sort of elaborate plan, the truth is, like most of my career to this point, it was serendipitous.
Our story doesn’t begin in Times Square however, it starts in my brother-in-law’s truck on a back road in Maine.
“Awww Crap, Now I’ve GOT To Go To New York”
About two weeks ago, my brother in law Zac and I drove over an hour away to get some yard toys from my grandparents house for my son Thomas.
Unfortunately for Zac, he’s got a big heart, strong muscles and a pickup truck. Which means any time we do runs like this, hes doing most of the driving & the heavy lifting. Were I more physically competent, our trips together might only take half the time. I try to make up for it by buying food and gas, but I digress.
On the way back from what should have been a 3 hour trip, I check my Facebook to see that Dave Kerpen of Likeable Media had invited me to a networking/fundraising event in Manhattan.
“Oh Man! I just got invited to an event in New York”
“Yeah? Is that a bad thing?” asked Zac.
“No. It’s a really good thing, it’s just, I don’t want to have to go to New York. I mean, the guy who’s invited me’s kind of a big deal, and because he’s like me, I know he didn’t just invite all of his Facebook friends, but he went through and selected the people he’d like to see there, and we’ve talked on the phone once before, so that I made that list means that I probably should go. I mean, even if he didn’t carefully select everyone I STILL made that list and it would be bad form to not show up, and it’s on the 24th which is close to my birthday and Nate and Staci’s rehersal dinner is only a couple days after that, then there’s the bachelor party…”
(Seriously, if I wrote like I rant, you’d be here all day reading entire blocks of text with very little punctuation)
Zac just smiled and listened.
After getting the initial rant out of my system, I called my wife and started with a similar rant…
“Honey, just go.” she said with a smile, and early enough to prevent the verbal momentum from taking hold.
And that was that. The decision was made, I was taking this trip.
Six Hours On a Bus
Perhaps it’s because I bused home occasionally when I went to conservatory in New York, but the trip doesn’t really bother me.
This was the second time in the past four months I’ve taken this trip for the chance to drink free booze and hand out business cards – except I don’t have business cards so what does that say about me?
Really, it could be very easy for me to dismiss the idea of taking such a long trip. Between the wife, my son, and a boatload of work, I mean honestly, who would want to spend over 12 hours on a bus for a 3 hour networking event?
But the truth is, face time matters.
I live in Maine. Meeting with key influencers by sticking to local events is…tough.
Really I could do a whole article on why taking the long trip matters, but for me it really only boils down to two points:
1.) The long bus ride ensures I’m going to make the most out of every conversation.
2.) People are impressed as hell that you spent so long with your ass on a bus “just for this”
How I Got On The BillBoard
So after spending six hours on the bus, I had another six to kill because the event wasn’t until evening.
Because the bus came in to Times Square, I made it my mission to take a picture with the first celebrity I saw.
Then it was time to eat.
I went to the McDonald’s, ordered a #3 and went upstairs to eat. I called my wife to let her know that the trip went alright and to say “Hi” to my son. While I was on the phone looked down and noticed…
THERE WAS A HOLE IN THE CROTCH OF MY PANTS!!!
I panicked for a moment, but Megan reminded me that I could always get a new pair of pants.
I looked out the window and saw American Eagle across the way, so when I finished my burgers, I went over.
Always Finding The Opportunity
After trying on several pairs of pants, I settled on a pair of “Original Boot” Dark Wash, and approached the cash wrap.
On the counter behind the register said
“Get your 15 minutes of fame with anypaid purchase. Ask your cashier how.”
I immediately pointed to the sign and said “How?”
She informed me that if I took my receipt to the third floor, they would take my picture and put it on the billboard in Times Square.
What was fun about this was not only were they going to take my picture and put it on a billboard in Times Square, but they were also going to give me 20 characters to say whatever I wanted. FOOLS!
“Watch Inside The Mind” didn’t fit so I went with “See Inside The Mind” then took a picture of the picture they took of me after they put it on the billboard.
And that my friends is how I got my face on a billboard in Times Square for $39.99.
The Moral Of The Story
I mean, aside from the “take trips to get face time” and “always look for the opportunity” points is this…
Even though I hadn’t “earned” a billboard, the grandeur of it was something to give the people connected to my page something to cheer for.
It stood out because it was fun and unexpected.
Doing “Big” things isn’t so hard if you keep your eyes and mind open (and you decide to push forward).
What unexpected opportunities have you taken advantage of in the past? Everyone’s got one, and if we share we can all know what sorts of things to look out for in the future :-)
Btw The event was for Reshma for New York, which if you’re an entrepreneur in New York, I would HIGHLY recommend that you check out her platform. As a public advocate, she’s got some really cool stuff planned and she’s done some amazing things already that are really worth checking out.